10 April 2008

Clam produces an enchanted pearl of cinnabar

Last night Meg and I played Tales of the Fisherman's Wife. I have a few mechanical kinks to work out, and as I mentioned before the end is really clunky, but we had fun, and told a hilarious story complete with sex with giant fish and kelp men.

Act 1
The story begins with the Fisherman preparing for his journey. I was the Fisherman, Meg was the Wife. The Fisherman asks "How many nets have you mended and what is the condition of my boat?" Meg draws a Spade (can't remember the number) and says, "Four nets and I have made sure your boat is in tip top shape. And here's your lunch!"

The Wife asks how many days would the Fisherman be gone. I draw a Diamond card. "Two days, and because you have mended so many of my nets, I predict my baskets will overflow with fish."

They leave each other with the following 6 words. To the Wife: "Clam produces an enchanted pearl of cinnabar."

To the Fisherman: "Moon makes a silver necklace for a lady."

[Note: Articles, i.e. "that", "an", and "a" don't count in the 6 words.]

So off the Fisherman goes.

Act II
The Wife tends to their kelp drying business (they sell nori.) I'm playing the demon now. I draw a 10 of Clubs ("Devour"), Meg draws the 5 of Diamonds ("Enslave"). The demon approaches the Wife first as a giant piece of seaweed. They exchange witty barbs back and forth (ex, "I want to have you for dinner"), and when we get to the final card, the kelp demon transforms into a handsome man, and declares that he wants to "devour" the Wife, but not in a food way. I have the high card for Clubs. But Meg as the high card for Diamonds. The first round ends up in a tie. The kelp demon devours the Wife in a conjugal way, and is her slave for the night.

The next day (Scene 2) the kelp demon returns. This time he wants to Possess (Spades) the Wife. The Wife wants to "Steal a Power" (Clubs). Meg wins this round. She is immune to his charms, and at the last minute she steals a shell from his hair and gains the power to summon water creatures. Dejected, the kelp demon turns back into kelp and floats away.

(Scene 1) I now play the Fisherman, and Meg plays the demon. I draw a Heart (Seduce), and Meg draws a Diamond (Serve). Fisherman discovers a giant golden fish in his net. Immediately he is smitten. He places her in a giant tank and woos her, while she offers to serve him. I win this round, and the Fisherman seduces the fish demon. Yup, while she's still a fish.

(Scene 2)
The demon returns, this time to Possess (Spades). The Fisherman wants to Seduce (Hearts) her again. This time she changes into the form of a woman with glistening scales. Now the demon has 4 chances (4 Scenes) to succeed, since the Fisherman has 4 nets. And in the end, Meg and I both had the high card, but the Ace of Spades is the unbeatable card. When played by the demon it becomes "Supplant", and when played by a human it is "Destroy". So the Fisherman is supplanted. The fish demon controls him outside his body with strings like a marionette. They return home early.

Act IV
The Wife suspects something, and the fish demon knows her brother the kelp demon has been consorting with the Wife. The fish demon was going to try to Enslave the Wife, and the Wife was going to try to Destroy (Ace of Spades) the fish demon. The end game mechanics need some work, so we just fudged it. The Wife tries to save the Fisherman from the clutches of the fish demon by using her new power to summon water creatures. She calls on crabs to try to clip the strings that bind her husband to the fish demon. In the end, the fish demon strikes a bargain with the Wife. If she takes the Fisherman with her back to the sea, she'll call her brother back to become the Wife's lover. The Wife was happy with that, especially when reminded that kelp can grow up to 2 feet a day.

The Fisherman asks his Wife to tell him a story with the 6 words before they part forever. She tells the cautionary tale of how a clam fell in love with a bird, and out of love and from a piece of wood, the clam produced a beautiful pearl of cinnabar. The bird died, the clam died, and that's all the Wife had to say about inter-species love affairs.

The kelp demon returns, the fish demon gets her man, and they all live reasonably happily ever after.

There are a few mechanics I want to change, but as it is, it's playable and definitely fun. It's a short game, and playable with 3 and 4 players. The end game needs the most work. I'm going to take the rules down for a day or two while I make the first round of changes. Chris and I are going to play it tonight and see how it goes.

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